Cities are everyone's business, says GBCA

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The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), together with a list of influential industry groups, corporations and academic institutions, has published an open letter in The Australian, calling for a bi-partisan approach to urban policy across all tiers of government.

The signatories to the letter, which include the Australian Institute of Architects, Consult Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia, and the Property Council of Australia - all partners in Built Environment Meets Parliament (BEMP) - have called for a new discussion around how we achieve liveable, sustainable cities.

According to the Green Building Council of Australia's (GBCA's) Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, Australia's cities are confronted by significant long-term challenges.

"Population growth, transport congestion and housing affordability - three issues affecting everyday Australians - will be felt most severely in our major cities, which will accommodate around 85 per cent of our 36 million plus population by 2050. These challenges will only be addressed successfully through a nationally-consistent approach.

"We have made this statement to stimulate further public conversation around the future of Australia's cities. It's important that we avoid polarising discussion about the future of our cities into a debate about whether we go 'up' or 'out' - in other words arguing about the merits of urban infill versus greenfield development," says Ms Madew, who is also Chair of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council's Cities Taskgroup.

"Just last week, the Australian Government released the Our Cities - building a productive, sustainable and liveable future discussion paper to frame the policy approach to cities as the basis for a national urban policy. This is an important step towards an integrated, co-ordinated and nationally-consistent approach to urban policy."

The Green Building Council of Australia is currently leading the Green Star Communities project, which aims to drive sustainable development at the community scale. The Green Star Communities rating tool is being shaped around five national best practice principles of liveability, economic prosperity, environmental responsibility, design leadership and governance.

"We want to ensure that the long-term strategic vision for Australia's cities does not become politicised. It is critical that federal, state and local governments work together to deliver a national approach to planning and developing our cities. Australians deserve no less," Ms Madew concludes.

Together with the Green Building Council of Australia, the signatories include: the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects; Council of Capital City Lord Mayors; the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC); Woodhead; Woods Bagot; The University of South Australia; University of Melbourne; QUT; RMIT; University of Tasmania; Timothy Horton, South Australian Commissioner for Integrated Design; Professor Richard Weller from the University of Western Australia; Emeritus Professor Catherin Bull AM; Adjunct Professor John Stanley from the University of Sydney's Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies; Professor Mike Young, Executive Director, The Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide; Dr Sam Ridgway, Acting Head, School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture & Urban Design; The University of Adelaide; Urban Design Forum; University of Technology Sydney; Landscape Architects Australia and Architecture Australia.